Before we get started, I want to set the record straight…
These candles don’t have to be *just* for emergencies. They could also be:
“I’m totally curious about tallow” candles.
But they make especially nice emergency or survival candles since they are fairly inexpensive and you can make a bunch at once.
You can make candles out of many different materials, but I especially like using tallow since it allows me to put ALL of our home-raised beef to good use and it’s super-frugal. People have been burning candles made from animal fat for thousands of years, and it’s fun to follow in their footsteps.
Here’s my detailed tutorial that’ll show you how to render beef tallow yourself. But if you don’t want to use tallow to make candles, you can also follow this same tutorial and use soy wax instead.
How to Make Tallow Candles
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You will need:
- Canning jars (My wicks were rather short, so pint-sized jars were perfect)
- Tallow OR lard OR soy wax (how to render your own tallow)
- Wicks (one per jar) (These are the wicks I bought)
I didn’t include exact measurements for anything because this recipe is super-duper flexible. I like using pint-sized mason jars, but you can really use any size. The amount of tallow you need will depend on how many candles you want to make and what size your containers are.
First off, melt your tallow or wax in a double-boiler. I don’t have a double boiler, so I rigged up a DIY double-boiler instead.
I placed the tallow chunks inside a #10 can, and placed the can inside a stock pot filled half-full with water.
Using a can is especially handy since you don’t have to clean it out afterwards. (Washing off tallow or wax generally isn’t easy…)
Once the tallow has melted completely, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for a bit.
While the tallow is cooling off, you can prepare your jars.
Place one wick in each jar. Now–this is the hardest part–you want the wicks to stay in the middle of the jar once you pour the tallow in. To accomplish this, you have several options:
- You can use a hot glue gun to glue the wick to the bottom of each jar.
- You can use a Sticky Dot or some other type of glue.
- You can prop the wick in place with a couple of pencils.
- You can place strips of tape over the mouth of the jar to hold the wick in place.
It doesn’t matter how you get it done, just figure out a way to convince Mr. Wick that he should stay in the middle of the jar.
Once the melted tallow has cooled off a bit (not hardened–just cooled), you can pour it into the jars.
Allow the tallow to harden completely, then trim the wick (if needed).
- *UPDATE* I’ve been storing my homemade tallow candles for over a year now, and they haven’t turned rancid or icky at all.
- Although beef tallow can be pretty stinky when you are rendering it, thankfully, I haven’t noticed any smell when I burn my tallow candles.
- If you don’t butcher your own beef, check with your local butcher about buying beef fat so you can render your own tallow.
- You can use other glass jars, but be extra-cautious, as sometimes they can shatter due to heat. To avoid this, heat them up (in the oven or with a hair dryer) before you pour the melted tallow inside. Canning jars are made to withstand high temps, which is why I prefer to use them for this.
Tuck your tallow candles away for next time there is a power outage, or burn them right away and enjoy the satisfaction of your very own homemade, toxin-free candles.